Santa Clara Magazine

SCU Law receives its largest gift ever

SCU Law receives its largest gift ever

By Deborah Lohse

Start with ideas: Howard Charney, MBA '73, J.D. '77 and Alida Schoolmaster Charney. Photo by John M Photography
$10 million to help build a new high-tech, collaboration-oriented home for law

Howard Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 knows something about the power of networks. A senior vice president in the Office of the President and CEO at Cisco Systems Inc.—as well as founder of 3Com and Grand Junction Networks—he’s a sought-after speaker on the future of technology and global change. “Silicon Valley is about the intersection of intellectual creativity and creating economic value from that creativity,” he says. “And the way that is done is to start with ideas, flesh them out, and wrap them in this construct we call business—which is underpinned entirely by the law.”

Which is where this comes in: Howard Charney and Alida Schoolmaster Charney, his wife of 34 years, donated $10 million to Santa Clara University School of Law to fund a new technologically advanced, collaboration-oriented law school building. The big news was announced in December 2014. Half of the gift comes in the form of a donation and half is a matching gift to support additional fundraising.

Charney is a member of the SCU Board of Trustees and a longtime advisor to the University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, funding a professorship there, serving on the advisory board, and recently joining the executive committee. “Santa Clara University is in the process of redefining itself,” he says. “I hope this gift will create momentum and help to shape what the University will look like for the next several decades.”

A licensed patent attorney, Charney holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He confesses, “When I went to Santa Clara, I didn’t know how to read a balance sheet; I was an engineer. People on the board with me at Santa Clara contributed to who I am today.”

During his career, Charney has overseen the development and expansion of key technologies that have helped build the global Internet as it exists today. He helped grow Cisco’s two-tier distribution business to more than $2.4 billion and helped turn fast ethernet and low-cost switching into fundamental, global Internet technologies. At 3Com, he helped create products that would later become ethernet and local area networking, enabling Internet access to the desktop.

“Along your journey, nobody can create wealth or economic results without a lot of help,” he says. “I don’t care who you are. All undertakings that create economic results occur because of friendships and trust relationships.”

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